The police detained foreigners living in Krakow. They were supposed to show them weapons, hit them with clubs, and finally imprisoned them for the night in police custody. All because the inhabitants of one of the estates in Ruczaj considered the men moving to a new apartment to be burglars. The police have already admitted that there was a mistake and that “activities aimed at examining the correctness” of the intervention are underway in the case.
On Sunday, July 3, coming from Bangladesh Iqbal, Jahid and Talha moved from Skawina to a rented apartment in Krakow’s Ruczaj. They spent most of the day hauling their belongings, going back and forth and relocating things to their new home. At one point, they report, several men ran up to them, pointing their pistols at them. They thought they had encountered thieves. In fact, they were plain policemen.
The Bangladeshi people have been living in Poland for several years, but – as they emphasize – this was the first time they had ever encountered such a situation.
“They broke the glass, they pulled me out and knocked me down to the asphalt”
The case is described by activists from the Salam Lab Peace Action Laboratory Association, who talked to foreigners. According to their reports, Iqbal, his cousin Talha, and friend Jahid, while moving, mistook the number of the cage to which they were to move. When they tried to open the door of one of the apartments, they realized that they were at the wrong address, and the next time they hit the right place. However, the resident notified the police, suspecting that they were burglars.
After a few hours, around 10.30 p.m., uniformed officers appeared. As reported by the men, several people suddenly ran up to them with their pistols drawn. Iqbal was in the car at the time. He emphasizes that he has not seen any police uniforms, police car, blue lights, or badges. The officers told him to open the door. – Before I could react, they smashed the glass, pulled me out and knocked me onto the asphalt. Someone was holding my neck with his knees, handcuffed me – reports Iqbal in an interview with Salam Lab. – I was afraid that they would shoot me – he adds.
At the same time, the policemen were to detain Jahid. Soon after, more police cars arrived, all three were taken to the police station. The men point out that they tried to talk to the policemen and explain the incident, but they were not to listen to them.
According to the men’s accounts, they arrived at the police station around 2 a.m. from Sunday to Monday. Iqbal says that no one presented their rights to them, they were denied the right to a telephone, and after a search of his apartment on a document that the Bangladeshi did not understand (it was written only in Polish), an officer was supposed to sign for him.
As the policemen did not find any illegal object or items from the theft, around 2.30 pm the officers admitted a mistake, apologized, and the three were released.
Police: activities are ongoing to verify the correctness of the intervention
After the case was publicized in the media, the Krakow police issued a communiqué. We read in it that activities “aimed at examining the correctness of the intervention carried out by policemen” are being carried out.
The police informed that around 4 p.m., the police station received a report from a resident suspecting that someone had tried to break into his apartment. “The owner of the apartment notified the police and provided the descriptions of the men, as well as the make and registration number of the car they drove away,” reads the statement. The policemen were notified again around 10 p.m. At that time, one resident claimed that two people were walking with packages up the staircase, most likely committing theft.
Police officers admit that there was a mistaken arrest
“Uniformed officers approached them and shouted ‘stop, police’. However, the men did not obey the order. The situation became dynamic because one of them attempted to escape and behaved aggressively after being captured,” the Krakow police reported. The uniforms emphasize that the man did not respond to the summons in Polish and English, so the officers used “physical force, a manual gas thrower and a telescopic baton” against him.
According to police officers, at the same time the other man got into the car, locked himself inside, “tried to start the engine and drive away”. Therefore, the officers broke the window of the vehicle. The policemen argue that the foreigners “could not logically explain what they were doing in this place”. The next day, after an interrogation in the presence of an interpreter and a search of the apartment, they were released.
“The case files were sent to the prosecutor’s office with a request to discontinue the proceedings due to the lack of features of a prohibited act” – we read in the release. The police emphasize that there have been many burglaries and burglary attempts in the area of Ruczaj recently, hence every report from the residents is thoroughly checked.
We sent questions to the Krakow police regarding, inter alia, how the “aggressive behavior” of the men referred to in the announcement was supposed to look in practice, and whether the intervention was recorded.
As reported by Gazeta Wyborcza, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights was involved in helping Iqbar and Jahid, against whom the police were to use force.
Salam Lab, PAP, tvn24.pl, Gazeta Wyborcza
Main photo source: private archive